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Welcome, Mitch Shapiro
MuniNetworks.org is happy to welcome a new contributor to the site, Mitch Shapiro. Mitch will author pieces from time to time, the start of our efforts to broaden the contributions to and reach of MuniNetworks.org. If you are interested in contributing on a one-time or semi-regular basis, please let us know at email@example.com.
Mitch Shapiro has been an analyst, author and consultant in the telecom, media and broadband industries for more than 25 years. His interest in community-controlled networks dates back to his graduate school days at Michigan State University, which included two internship in Washington DC, the first helping to draft a manual for local communities wanting to deploy a cable TV cooperative, the second working for Intelsat, a cooperatively organized global satellite network. That interest remains strong today, and is informed by more than two decades of experience analyzing broadband technologies, business models, competitive dynamics and economic impacts.
Mitch currently serves as CEO of Broadband Market Analysis, a research and consulting firm, and Rural Fiber Works, which supports cooperative and municipal utilities in developing strategies for open-access community fiber networks. He is also a consultant with Strategic Networks Group, a leader in helping public and private entities understand and maximize the economic benefits of broadband networks.
Throughout his career, Mitch has been a leader in recognizing and projecting the impacts of key industry developments. In the mid-1980s, as Research Director of the Michigan Citizens Lobby, he managed a statewide study of the impacts of the AT&T divestiture on Michigan’s low-income households. In the late 80s and early 90s, as lead technology analyst for Paul Kagan Associates, he was early to recognize the significance of the cable industry’s migration to the “hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC)” architecture, which enabled it to expand from a TV-only service to today’s “triple-play” of voice, video and Internet. Shortly after passage of the 1996 Telecom Act, Mitch authored a 375-page report published by Probe Research, which projected the financial impacts of the legislation on cable and telephone companies, including the role of then-emerging broadband and “triple-play” services, and the potential role of electric utilities in the changing communication market.
Mitch was also early to recognize the potential for bringing fiber to small towns and rural areas, as reflected in a 2001 column he wrote in Lightwave magazine entitled “Fiber to the Farm,” which examined the improving economics of rural fiber deployments and a pioneering open-access FTTH network in Washington state.
In 2006, Mitch authored a 105-page report entitled Municipal Broadband: The Economics, Politics and Implications, which was published by Pike & Fischer. Two years later he co-authored the Municipal & Utility Guidebook to Bringing Broadband Fiber Optics to Your Community, published by the Public Technology Institute. Describing it as “the first comprehensive guide written for city, county, and utility officials,” PTI’s Executive Director Alan Shark highlighted the guidebook’s value in an opening preface:
This guidebook helps government leaders build a strong case for investing in an infrastructure that brings fiber-to-the-home services, through thorough analysis, interviews, and painstaking research. It sets forth strategies that, if followed, will help American communities whose broadband needs are not being met by current market dynamics to prosper in the information age.
Mitch holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Telecommunications from Michigan State University. His recent publications are listed here.
Rescue Plan Dollars Resuscitate an Open Access Fiber Network Buildout in Erie County, New York
Plans for an open access fiber backbone in Erie County, New York (pop. 951,000) are being readjusted after having been stymied by the pandemic. The county will use Rescue Plan funding to cover the cost of building the backbone, which will be owned by the county and operated by ErieNet, a nonprofit local development corporation.
Rural Southeast Alaskan Tribes Leverage Spectrum for a Pilot Connecting Hard-to-Reach Communities
The Tlingit and Haida Tribes will leverage $15 million in Rescue Plan funding to bring LTE-based 100 Mbps symmetrical wireless connectivity to 10,000 unserved residents in and around the city of Wrangell, located on Wrangell Island
Lancaster County, Nebraska Looking to Build Conduit Network to Rural Areas
About ten years ago, the city of Lincoln, Nebraska (pop. 285,000) began construction on a publicly owned conduit system it would eventually lease to Internet Service Provider (ISP) ALLO Communications to enable better Internet service options to residents.
Tribal Broadband Bootcamps Bring Broadband Solutions to Indian Country
An effort to foster digital sovereignty and support tribal citizens to build and operate their own broadband networks in Indian Country is gaining momentum. Responding to the challenges of COVID and the opportunities created by the federal attention and investment into tribal broadband, our own Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, prominent Tribal broadband advocate and 20-year veteran behind the Tribal Digital Village, Matt Rantanen, along with a loose coalition of public interest tech people have organized a series of trainings to help tribes tackle building and running networks for themselves.
Attacks on Gigi Sohn Reinforce Her Fitness for the FCC
Gigi Sohn is still up for confirmation by the Senate to complete the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - an independent agency in the executive branch of the federal government that has been stuck at a 2-2 split of Democrats and Republicans since President Biden took office.
Golden State Connectivity Authority and UTOPIA Fiber to Build Open Access FTTH Network Across Rural California
Last week, the Golden State Connectivity Authority (GSCA) announced it has entered into formal partnership with the municipally owned open access network UTOPIA Fiber, for the Utah-based owner and provider to design, build, and operate a new open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network across the 38 rural counties in the state of California. It's a move that not only offers the chance to bring future-proof connections to millions of rural California households in the near future, but have wide policy and industry implications for open access fiber networks down the road.